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The Good, Bad, and Ugly Report: Clemson

Or maybe we should call it the Good Enough, Bad, and Ugly Report because good enough was what the Tar Heels pieced together against a Clemson team that is strugg-a-ling.

In all, this game was a case of the total being greater than the sum of its parts. The offense stunk yet ground out three touchdowns (in no small part thanks to backbreaking Clemson penalties) and effectively killed the clock late in the 4th quarter. The defense held Clemson to 305 yards, 74 of which came on one play, but generated little pressure up front and got cooked on the long scoring pass. The Heels were out-gained but won the battle that counts, which is on the scoreboard.

So, keeping in mind that a win is a win, here is this week's GBU report:


Johnny White: That's Mr. White to you. White rushed for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns, while catching six passes for 90 more yards. Hard to believe he was the #3 back entering this season. His 51-yard reception in the second quarter jump-started the offense to score a key touchdown, and he touched the ball on every single play on the final clock-draining drive.

Zach Brown and Kevin Reddick: Brown, starting at Will linebacker in the place of the injured Quan Sturdivant, made the most of his day with a whopping 14 tackles, 10 of them solo stops. Reddick, the sometimes forgotten man in the middle between NFL prospects Sturdivant and Bruce Carter, was in on 10 tackles and broke up 2 passes. The future sure looks bright at linebacker.

Run defense: Carolina held the ACC's leading rusher, Andre Ellington, to only 55 yards rushing, and the entire Clemson offense to less than 100 yards on the ground. As a result, the Tigers were forced to go to the air which has not been their strong suit.

Fourth-down gambles: UNC was an amazing 4-for-4 on 4th down conversions, all of which sustained scoring drives.


Offensive line: Hate to keep harping on this, but this unit did not have a great day yet again. They gave up two sacks and did not open holes against a previously porous Clemson run defense. The O-line must get better every week particularly as the offense has sputtered some recently.

Defensive line pressure: Clemson QB Kyle Parker had all day to throw the ball and for the second straight game, the Carolina defense did not record a sack.

Wide receivers and Zack Pianalto: UNC's three big receivers - Jheranie Boyd, Erik Highsmith, and Dwight Jones - combined for 6 catches and only 46 yards, far less than what Johnny White accounted for by himself. And Pianalto, T.J. Yates' favorite target, had only one catch for 6 yards, but in his defense, he did draw double coverage all afternoon.


Punting: This has been a weakness of Carolina's for the past few seasons but this season has been downright ugly. Incumbent punter Grant Shallock was benched in favor of C.J. Feagles, but Feagles has hardly been an improvement. He punted 7 times for only a 33-yard average with only one kick inside the 20. As THF tweeted from the game, Shallock must have really done something to set Butch Davis off because Feagles has just been awful. This is going to come back and bite the Heels at some point.

Receivers' depth perception: Is there some reason Carolina's receivers cannot run to the first-down markers?  On at least three occasions Yates completed passes to receivers just short of the sticks.

3rd-down conversions: UNC was a horrific 4 for 14 on 3rd down, although at least three of them could have been converted if receivers had run to the sticks (see above). Fortunately Carolina was brilliant on 4th down because they sure needed it.

As THF noted in the game recap, this is the kind of game that was expected before the season - the defense essentially bailing out an inconsistent T.J. Yates and a sputtering offense. But it is a win nonetheless and keeps the Heels only a game out in the loss column in the division race. Next up - a trip to the Bermuda Triangle, otherwise known as Scott Stadium, to play Virginia.